Monday, December 03, 2007

Choir of hard knocks

My daughter gave me the DVD of this for my birthday, and now I've finished college I have time to start watching it. incredibly moving.

To recap: Opera singer and choirmaster Jonathon Welch had the idea to form a choir from the down and outs of melbourne. No singing auditions were required, the only qualification was to be homeless or disadvantaged in some way. Hence most of the choir members have serious problems with drugs, alcohol etc. But here, in this choir they are given value. Jonathon is a natural with these people; he doesn't condescend or patronise them. He insists on a few basic rules, like treating each other with respect, then he simply loves them and responds to them as they are. We see him crying at some of their auditions for solo parts (ok, I was crying too), hugging them and encouraging them. There was a special on Channel 2 the other night showing them being brought to perform at the Sydney Opera House. I defy any normal person to have dry eyes when a young woman gets up and sings a solo about "the two of us" with her young daughter, and then announce to the crowd that she's been clean for 3 days and this is the first time in her life she's ever sung sober!

And then you see those faces, across which life has written things that you and I can only imagine in our nightmares, and there is light and hope there, and they are singing the words of Leonard Cohen's hallelujah:

And even though
It all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

That's grace. Beyond our theological differences and quibbles, that's the heart of it for everyone of us. Dare we imagine that, because our lives are more comfortable and our sins are more genteel, we are any less broken than they? We will not be singing our Hallelujahs one day because we got it more right than anyone else, but because God in His mercy has come among us, as Jesus, and lifted us out of the gutter and set a new song upon our lips. May we, too, have tears of wonder in our eyes.

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